Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons: NFL Game Preview

Walker DanielsCorrespondent IJanuary 10, 2011

Aaron Rodgers
Aaron RodgersAl Bello/Getty Images

Online Sports Bet Overview

The NFL betting online crowd fears the Green Bay Packers, and they should. The sportsbook promo people only feel confident enough to give the Atlanta Falcons a one-point advantage over the Packers in this game.

The Falcons are the best team in the NFC playing at home, and the best they could get is one point. The betting services fear the Packers.

The Atlanta Falcons are in a position that is new to this particular collection of players. Atlanta has been steadily improving for the past three years, and now they have elevated themselves to the position of best regular season team in the NFC.

But a key loss at home to the New Orleans Saints in Week 16 showed that the Falcons still have much to learn about winning in the playoffs.



The Green Bay Packers had absolutely no reliable running game to speak of...until last week. Running back James Starks suddenly arrived on the scene to rack up 123 much-needed yards against the Philadelphia Eagles and help to spread the field out for quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers threw three touchdown passes against an extremely potent Eagles secondary and showed that he can elude any pass rush. Rodgers was moving well in the pocket and causing all kinds of confusion for the Eagles secondary and pass rushers.

When you add the Starks element to it, Philadelphia had no idea what the Packers were going to do next.

The Falcons offense features one of the most balanced attacks in football. Quarterback Matt Ryan has offensive weapons like wide receiver Roddy White and veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez to throw to.

Then there is running back Michael Turner, who has proven to be one of the most dangerous runners in the NFL. Ryan still lacks playoff experience, and he will learn that an NFL defense plays much faster in the playoffs than it does in the regular season.



The Falcons offense gets so much press that the defense can often be forgotten. The problem for the Falcons defense is that they are terrible against the pass. They were ranked 22nd against the pass in the regular season.

It was the defensive tendency to give up big scoring plays late in the game that made Matt Ryan have to formulate so many fourth quarter comebacks. The Falcons defense needs to tighten up against the pass or Aaron Rodgers will pick them apart.

The Packers defense will be the difference in this game. The linebackers and defensive linemen for Green Bay are relentless. Not only can linebackers A.J. Hawk and Clay Matthews rush the passer and stuff the run, but they can also shut down the middle of the field for the opposing passing game as well.

The Falcons will need to adjust to the speed of the Packers defense, and Ryan may find it difficult to react to the changes he sees in the Green Bay scheme.


The Bottom Line

The Packers are that team in the playoffs that has the thing that no one wants to face. It was said by more than one NFL expert that if the Packers do make the playoffs, they could go all the way to Dallas and Super Bowl XLV. If the Packers win this game, then that prediction could very well come true.

Pick: Green Bay Packers